PHILADELPHIA -- The question: How would Senators winger Dany Heatley do without tablesetter Jason Spezza?
The answer: Just fine, so far, thanks.
With Spezza, the Senators' leading scorer out for a month with a knee injury, Heatley turned playmaker yesterday as the Senators rallied for a 6-3 win over the lowly Flyers at the Wachovia Center.
Okay, so it's just the Flyers, who have now lost nine in a row.
Hey, the Senators aren't in a position to look down on any win these days and can now go into their Christmas break back at the break-even mark at 18-18-1.
"This is a game we needed. The next month is make or break time for us," said Heatley, who helped make the new top line of himself, centre Mike Fisher and captain Daniel Alfredsson a success yesterday as they combined for six points, 17 shots and were plus-8.
Alfredsson had two goals and an assist (including the 700th point of his career), Heatley had two assists and Fisher one helper.
"We got a couple of ugly ones and we were sniffing around all night. Fish works so hard and we spent a lot of time in their end. When you do that, you're going to get rewarded," said Heatley.
Is he going to be a playmaker now?
"I wouldn't say that," he said.
It wasn't easy as the Senators, who trailed 2-1 in the second, scored three third-period goals to take control of the game, giving goaltender Martin Gerber his sixth win of the season and his first since Dec. 5.
Heatley set up goals by defenceman Chris Phillips and the first of two by Alfredsson halfway through the third, which proved to be the winner (Alfredsson later iced the win with an empty-netter).
On the winner, Heatley intercepted a pass by Flyers defenceman Derian Hatcher and took the puck to the net where Philly goaltender Antero Niittymaki stopped his backhander.
Alfredsson swept in and buried the rebound for his eighth of the season.
"We were able to force them to turn it over and I just kind of whacked at it. It was nice to see it go in," said Alfredsson. "That's going to make Christmas a lot more fun, that's for sure."
The Senators also got goals by defenceman Joe Corvo, winger Denis Hamel and Peter Schaefer, on a power play set up when Heatley drew a penalty by keeping his feet moving in the corner.
Ottawa native Ben Eager, Jeff Carter and Kyle Calder scored for the Flyers.
Senators coach Bryan Murray liked the tone set by his new top line.
"They had lots of chances and they were on the puck all night long," said Murray. "When your best players are working hard, everyone gets caught up in it and follows suit."
The Senators battled back in the second period on goals from a couple of unexpected sources to take a 3-2 lead. The Senators are going to need other guys to step up with Spezza out after he hurt his knee in a collision with Lightning forward Martin St. Louis on Thursday night.
First it was Phillips converting a nice feed from behind the net by Heatley to tie the game 2-2 at 12:34. It was Phillips' third of the season and his first in 17 games.
Hamel, who had a bunch of good shifts yesterday, gave the Senators the lead less than two minutes later when he jumped in over the Flyers' blue line and blasted a slapper from the top of the left wing circle by Niittymaki on the stick side at 14:13.
But the Senators couldn't get out of the second with the lead. Gerber didn't have much of a chance on Calder's second goal of the season late in the period as he jumped behind Wade Redden and Chris Kelly to slam home Sami Kapanen's centring pass from the corner.
"Let's not talk around it. This was a must-win for us," said Gerber, who faced 29 shots.
The Christmas turkey will now taste a little better for the Senators, who won't play again until Alexei Yashin and the Islanders visit Scotiabank Place next Wednesday.